State of wonder

By 2007, Uncage the Soul Productions had reached a tipping point. The full-service video production company that John Waller (’03) launched three years prior was finally sustainable in its own right.

Uncage the Soul helps clients create compelling stories that make a positive difference in the lives of people and well-being of the planet. Waller’s breadth of experience and passion for exploration helps his company achieve this mission.

“My career is an all-access pass to places and people I wouldn’t otherwise come in contact with – and some that I’d never even imagined,” says Waller. “We get to do a deep-dive inquiry to find the story, and sometimes we end up knowing more about an organization or person than they do themselves.”

Trekking into New Territory

No stranger to discovery, Waller received his master’s degree through PSU’s Graduate Teacher Education Program. He quickly landed a job as a high school teacher, but realized it wasn’t what he envisioned. “The world was this big place to explore and I wanted to be out in it,’” he recalls.

Waller’s interest in video and photography was growing too, and he undertook multiple personal projects. “Every time I’d make a short video, I’d raise my own bar and make the next one more complex. I also became excited by the idea of having my own business.”

Waller left the classroom and traveled around Patagonia before he ventured into the territory of entrepreneurship. He supplemented his income from the fledgling business by working as a guide and corporate event facilitator for a tour company.

A native of rural Oregon who spent most of his youth fishing and roaming hillsides, the work was second nature to Waller. He led whitewater rafting trips and excursions to Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams. Waller also took photos during these events and sold them to clients and participants for extra income. Meanwhile, he built his network connections as well as Uncage the Soul’s portfolio.

Once a Teacher…

Waller has been a volunteer digital camera and filmmaking instructor, but he noticed that his PSU education serves all facets of his work. “So many skills and techniques that I cultivated through the teaching program were totally applicable as an outdoor guide and facilitator,” he says. “And a lot of my work now is educating clients on the process and project costs. My teaching skillsets pop up all the time in my daily life.”

Waller’s stays involved with PSU, but now it’s through the School of Film. He attends student showcases and has mentored a few film students with paid interns at Uncage the Soul. “This industry changes on a daily basis and it’s fascinating to see what the kids are doing. There’s so much creative, enthusiastic talent.”